Residents question funding new Central Saanich fire hall

Re: Let the facts lead you in fire hall decision (PNR letters May 18). Councillor Kubek’s letter urges Central Saanich electors to let facts guide them, however his missive is sadly lacking in facts. Kubek refers to the Alternative Approval Process (AAP) as an outside attack and a negative cynical political campaign and their petition. These are patently false characterizations. District AAP documents clearly state that it is the Central Saanich district council (of which Kubek is a member) that is conducting the AAP. The Community Charter requires that council obtain the approval of the electors prior to considering this Loan Authorization Bylaw for adoption. It is conducting an Alternative Approval Process. 

Council is seeking elector approval via the AAP process because they do not wish to go to a referendum. However, citizens have a right to request a referendum, via the AAP process. If 10 per cent of voters sign, then a referendum can be called.

With only six months left in the mandate of this council — which has borrowed more money than any other council in Central Saanich history — a referendum during the upcoming election would be the right thing to do, for several reasons. Firstly, a referendum could be held at no additional cost to electors as part of the upcoming municipal election. A referendum would be more fair, since there would be clear notice of the election and referendum, and ample opportunity for all electors to take part. The AAP process does not provide notice to a majority of electors except by two notices in a local paper which all electors do not receive, which is why many electors are not even aware the AAP process is occurring. In the AAP process (just like negative option billing), ignorance that the process is occurring, and the subsequent predictable lack of response to the process voters are unaware of, are both considered to be approval and consent.

Calling for a referendum by signing the district’s AAP forms will mean that everyone will have fair notice and be apprised of the facts. It will also mean that the next Central Saanich council won’t be unfairly forced to deal with what the current council is trying to ram through in the last six months of their term: enormous borrowing, record taxation levels, and creation of a new urban area that is not part of the Official Community Plan and does not have CRD approval.

Central Saanich citizens deserve more democratic processes, and to be apprised of all of the facts — including all current borrowing totals and their taxation implications. The AAP process, simply put, amounts to an undemocratic negative option billing process which is being used to avoid a fair and democratic referendum. Regardless of what electors think of the fire hall, they have a right to a say in borrowing and its taxation increase implications. And, contrary to Councillor Kubek’s characterization of the council’s AAP process of a negative campaign, Central Saanich citizens who sign the AAP forms are simply exercising their democratic right to request a referendum in a council-led process. 

Lori Waters,

Central Saanich